SAXTON — The streak lives on, and with it another Inter-County Conference championship will head to Bellwood-Antis.
The Blue Devils put together a sound all-around effort for a 20-0 victory over Tussey Mountain in a battle of unbeaten teams on Friday night.
Bellwood’s win is its 36th straight against ICC competition, dating back to the 2015 season. The visitors won the turnover battle and didn’t commit a penalty until late in the fourth quarter when things were well in hand.
On the other side, Tussey Mountain hadn’t been shut out since the fourth week of the 2017 season.
“It was a lot of assignment football today,” said Bellwood-Antis coach Nick Lovrich. “Our kids played disciplined with focus to make sure that we were able to stop their offense, which a lot of teams have had trouble with. They’ve moved the ball well against a lot of teams.”
The Blue Devils found the end zone less than five minutes into the opening quarter. After forcing a Titan punt, they went 66 yards in five plays that culminated on Nick Plank’s 16-yard scoring run. The extra point failed and it was 6-0.
On the second play of Tussey’s next possession, quarterback Matt Leonard left the field with an injury and didn’t return until the third quarter. He was replaced by Colton Bishop.
With Bishop under center, the Titans moved the ball to the BA 27-yard line but were stopped on downs. Early in the second quarter, the hosts reached further to the 19, only to come up short on a fourth down again.
Later in the period, Tussey Mountain failed on a third attempt to convert a fourth down, which gave Bellwood the ball at its 30-yard line with 1:58 to play before halftime.
The Blue Devils got to midfield before lining up to punt. They tried a fake with the snap going to quarterback Trevor Miller, but his pass was intercepted by Dave Smith, and the Titans ran out the clock and trailed 6-0 at the break.
“Losing Matt hurt a lot because we couldn’t run our no huddle offense,” said Tussey Mountain coach Anthony Sottasante. “But we have no excuses, you have to play with the breaks you get. That’s part of the game.
“I was really proud of Colton. He has a cast on his hand, and he came in and did a great job to keep us in the game.”
Bellwood received the second half kickoff and used 10 plays to go from its 44-yard line deep into Titan territory. However, Tussey’s defense held on a fourth down and goal direct snap to Zach Mallon that gained five yards but needed six to get to the end zone.
With the ball just outside the goal line, Tyler Rhodes took a pitch from Leonard and gave his team some breathing room and a first down. But on the next snap, Leonard’s pass was intercepted by Plank and returned for the touchdown.
Taylor Karns converted the point-after to make it 13-0 with 5:21 left in the third quarter.
Smith returned the kickoff to the BA 38. That was to no avail though as the Titans fumbled the ball on the first play and the Devils recovered.
Bellwood had to punt quickly. Tussey Mountain moved the ball across its 40-yard line before facing another short fourth down situation as the final quarter commenced.
On that play, Kaden Lucko was stopped for a loss and Bellwood regained possession.
Both teams lost the ball on their next drives, respectively, which left the visitors with it at the Titan 47 and 8:26 left in regulation.
Miller dropped back to pass on the first play and completed a 27-yard throw down the sideline to Troy Walker.
Set up at the Tussey Mountain 20, the Blue Devils put the game away on four consecutive runs.
Zach Mallon finished it off from four yards out. Karns split the uprights at the 5:48 mark to give Bellwood its eventual winning margin.
Tussey Mountain, 8-1, will host Moshannon Valley in the regular season finale next Friday.
“Bellwood’s a good football team,” said Sottasante. “You’re not going to turn the ball over that many times and beat a good team. And you have to win the short yardage situations and we didn’t do that.”
Lovrich praised the fact that his squad drew just one yellow flag over the four quarters of action.
“That goes back to assignments,” he said. “Tussey runs so much motion, probably on every play. So that is just a credit to our kids to be disciplined.”
GAME NOTES — Lucko led Tussey Mountain with 85 yards rushing, while Mallon had 90 on the ground for Bellwood-Antis. ... The lone penalty for the Blue Devils was a personal foul with 3:55 left in the game. ... Both teams completed only two passes. ... Bellwood is 9-0 and will host Southern Huntingdon next week.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS 20, TUSSEY MOUNTAIN 0
Bellwood 6 0 7 7 — 20
Tussey Mt. 0 0 0 0 — 0
BA — Nick Plank 16-yard run (kick failed), 7:30 in the 1st. BA — Plank 17-yard interception return (Taylor Karns kick), 5:21 in the 3rd. BA — Zach Mallon 4-yard run (Karns kick), 5:48 in the 4th.
Team Statistics BA TM
First Downs 8 11
Yards Rushing 182 183
Yards Passing 34 22
Pass Record 2-8 2-9
Intercepted By 1 1
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 4-2
Penalties-Yards 1-15 5-30
Punts-Avg. 3-30 1-36